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Appeal Court revisits 17-year drug sentence

Appeal Court revisits 17-year drug sentence

The Appeal Court on Tuesday revisited the case of a man sentenced by the provincial court in 2016 to 17 years in prison for trafficking more than 300g of methamphetamine.

This was after the Supreme Court ordered the Appeal Court to review its previous verdict which had upheld the lower court’s decision.

The convicted man, Tha Lihav, 28, told Judge Plong Samnang on Tuesday that on February 11, 2016, as he was passing through Stung Treng town’s Samaki commune in Stung Treng province, two men stepped out of a Lexus car.

He said one of them slapped him twice in the face and then forced to him carry a black plastic bag, while the other man took photographs of him.

Lihav said that soon afterwards, he was arrested by provincial Military Police who found illegal drugs inside the bag he was carrying. The Military Police later confirmed that the bag contained 326.5g of methamphetamine.

The Stung Treng provincial court heard the case on September 21, 2016, and sentenced Lihav to 17 years in prison and fined him 20 million riel ($5,000) under Article 40 of the Law on Drug Control.

Not satisfied with the provincial court’s verdict, Lihav filed a complaint at the Appeal Court, which subsequently decided to uphold the original verdict.

Lihav then appealed to the Supreme Court, which resulted in the court ordering the Appeal Court to re-examine the case. “The truth is I did not do it, but I confessed that I was guilty because the evidence was found in my hands.

“I still ask the court to reduce my sentence because I have high blood pressure and an elderly mother to take care of,” Lihav said at Tuesday’s court hearing.

Prosecutor Sar Yosthavirak said the Supreme Court had ordered the Appeal Court to review the case, examine the authenticity of the drugs and determine the degree of punishment the convict should face. “Therefore, I ask the court to review this case accordingly,” he said.

Sin Sovorn, Lihav’s defence lawyer, told the court that her client was not guilty as accused. “However, my client cannot now deny the accusation, because all the evidence was found in his hands, and he has already pleaded guilty.

“I have handled drug trafficking cases like this before. However, the convicts were sentenced to only seven years in prison at most. I ask the court to reconsider the punishment and reduce it for my client,” she said.

The verdict will be announced on August 14.